Main | Thursday, May 01, 2014

IDAHO: Retired Colonel Offers Burial Plot To Lesbian Widow Refused By Cemetery

A retired colonel has offered his burial plot to a veteran Idaho lesbian who was refused the right to be buried in a military cemetery next to her late wife, who also served in the armed forces.
The push by U.S. Navy veteran Madelynn Taylor and a woman she married out-of-state comes as four Idaho lesbian couples are challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and a broader debate over gay nuptials nationwide. Taylor told a Boise TV station the state military cemetery denied the pair burial as they did not have the Idaho marriage license required under its rules. Her longtime lesbian partner, Jean Mixner, died in 2012. "I am happy to give my fellow veteran that small peace of mind," retired U.S. Army Colonel Barry Johnson, a 27-year veteran, wrote in an open letter published on Wednesday in the Idaho Statesman newspaper. "And I do it to honor all the great Americans I've served with along the way - gay, straight, whatever." It was unclear if the cemetery would allow the transfer. The Idaho Division of Veterans Services said the cemetery's policy remains unchanged.
From Colonel Johnson's letter:
As a lifelong Idahoan and a 27-year Army veteran of two wars, I've worked beside heterosexuals, gays, lesbians and bisexuals. I've really never wanted to hear about anybody's sex life or sexual preferences, one way or another. Besides, everybody more or less knew who is who regardless, and I don't recall anybody in the military ever saying a thing about it. Never. Frankly, the only thing traumatic about the policy change for our armed forces of allowing gays to openly serve our country was all the media making a big deal about it. It didn't change a thing for any of us doing the job.

Serving in uniform has always been about earning trust and has never been about sexuality. Most of us just shrugged and endured sitting through hours of mind-numbing briefings on a change that essentially changed nothing. Then we have Madelynn Taylor, who seems like one heck of a lady. She cared for another person with all her heart and had to watch that person die. She is a veteran. She loves her country. She wants her partner by her side and she wants to eternally rest among veterans in the state she made home. Madelynn, you deserve that.
Read the full letter.

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